Intergenerational ministry has been getting a lot of attention in the church and in the youth ministry world in the last couple of years, and for good reason! It is a very important element when guiding teens through discipleship. Books, articles, and youth ministry speakers have all begun to share ideas and philosophies on how important this process is in keeping teens involved with the church family as a whole. While this is encouraging and inspirational I believe many of us ask the question, where do we begin?
About four years ago my church began to focus on being a better church family while promoting the idea of doing more intergenerational ministry. We still have age specific ministries, like youth ministry and others, but the leadership meets regularly to discuss the larger vision and how we can all work together to achieve this as the church body.
I noticed that we got really good about making committees. You know what I mean… Talking about, and promoting the importance of, intergenerational ministry… but I came to realize, I wasn’t doing enough to implement it. This conviction led me to start brainstorming with our Prime Time Ministries Pastor (60+ age group). He wanted to do something special for National Grandparents Day, and I knew just the thing. Our student music team had been playing quite a few traditional hymns and our older church members love to have hymn sings. So I suggested (albeit quite nervously), that the youth and Prime Time Ministry work together to host an all-church hymn sing. At first, I was skeptical of my own idea, I thought it might fail, but I took a risk and jumped toward this idea.
The Prime-timers really jumped on board, however, and in the end, we had a packed out event of people of all ages singing and worshiping God – eating together, praying together, and singing hymns of praise to God together. This event was a huge success; one member even said it reminded them of the old big tent revivals. This ended up being a great intergenerational event that all age groups enjoyed and are still talking about today.
So how do you begin to do more intergenerational ministry in a youth ministry context? Our church is brainstorming the same question, and based on what we’ve been discussing, I would suggest the following:
1. Pray, brainstorm and meet with other ministry leaders in your church that work with different age groups.
2. Be Creative – Be willing to come up with new ideas that you have never done before. It does not have to be a hymn sing, think of something that might work well in your church context and go for it. Involve groups of varying age and let them all have their voice.
3. Do Something – I think we often talk about great ideas, but we need to start acting on these ideas. Just go for it, if it does not go well at least you are moving in the right direction.
Kevin Klas has been in youth ministry for 10 years. He is currently the director of student ministries at Lake City Community Church in Lakewood, WA.